Keep Staring…..

Auburn University made the front page of this week’s Chronicle of Higher Education, but not in a good way.  With a title that conveys all the teasing luridness of a 50 Shades of Grey movie trailer — “Unrivaled Power: Inside Auburn’s Secret Effort to Advance an Athlete-Friendly Curriculum” — the lead article investigates the high percentage of male Auburn athletes majoring in Public Administration (PA), as well as the precipitous drop in PA enrollment that occurred once folks started sniffing around what many suspected was an academic dumpster.  (“Damn, this pulled-pork barbecue is rancid, Jesse!”)

However, there is a pungent question not addressed by the article:  If Auburn athletes are no longer majoring in Public Administration in large numbers, then what are they majoring in?  Well, according to Auburn President Steven Leath, the answer is……Orange.

That’s right, they’re majoring in the color orange.  Or, more precisely, burnt orange, which is one of Auburn’s two foundational school hues, the other being navy blue. 

Isn’t it a bit odd for a university to allow a student to major in a color?

Not at all, claims President Leath.  “Auburn has a prestigious Department of Art, and its interdisciplinary program in Orange Studies is world-renowned.  It has my full support.” 

The core courses that Orange majors take include the following:

ART 106 — Introduction to Intersectionality: Red + Yellow = Orange

HISTORY 331 — The Origins of “Orange”: Color or Fruit?

POLITICAL SCIENCE 215 — The U.S. Presidency in the 21st Century: White, Brown, Orange

ENGLISH 468 — Cheetos in 19th-Century British Fiction (online)

CIVIL ENGINEERING 821– Current Topics in Traffic Cone Design

ANTHROPOLOGY 514 — Seminar: The Lived Experience of Bolivian Pumpkin Carvers

PHILOSOPHY 162 — Carrots and Zen

Leath maintains that “these are not gut courses.  I audited Carrots and Zen last fall, and all I can say is: WOW!  Try staring at a carrot for 2 hours a day, every day, for 15 weeks.  If that doesn’t change your view of the world, nothing will.  Right after the course ended I went out and bought a rabbit.  My relationship with Flopsy is very special, but not in a way that would make anyone uncomfortable.”

This is one higher education scandal that appears to have had a happy ending.